When I arrived at The Heart of a Warrior Encounter, I had no idea what to expect as far as changes in my relationship with God. One of the things I have struggled with for a long time is not feeling loved by God ... or anyone. I have the head knowledge, but my heart didn't feel it. The reasons are many, and another story entirely, but the event at the creek was absolutely life changing.

Over the past few years, I had started to notice "love notes" from God. Sunrises, sunsets, cool clouds, scenery that no photograph could capture.....the view was mine... "Just for me". I'd tell my wife about them, but there wasn't any way to share them. I loved getting them, but there wasn't any emotion that I could attach. More recently, I started seeing this bald eagle. We have a few mating pairs on this stretch of the Potomac River in Virginia, so it's not unusual to see them. They're graceful and magnificent until you see them rob the osprey of their latest catch!

So there I am sitting on the creek bed outside the auditorium, spending Alone Time With God, and I have this one heartfelt prayer: "Show me that You love me, God? Please?" I remember the day I accepted Christ into my life. I remember how that felt. I hadn't felt it since then but maybe once or twice, and I wasn't paying much attention. Now I'm sitting on a cold rock, fully expecting "Mr. Eagle" to miraculously appear out of nowhere and act as the messenger I was waiting for............when a stupid sparrow lands in the bush about 6 feet from me. OK, what's this? Then it started to sing. It was a song sparrow. It has a very distinct song, and it's one that once you hear it, you just know it. That day........ not so much. That day, what I heard it say was "Hey, David, it’s Me. God, and I want you to know that I love you!". I felt that Holy Spirit hug just envelop me. The tears started, and they were good ones.

But then I started to think, and the magnitude of it all hit me.....HARD.

I've heard this dumb bird all my life. It's literally one of my earliest childhood memories. Now, as I think back to being 4-5 years old on a beach on Cape Cod in the summer, I realized that God.......had been telling me He loved me......as long as I can remember........and I had just missed it. It wasn't a guilty feeling for not catching it. It was an overwhelming feeling that despite everything I had chosen to believe for over 45 years, God was ALWAYS there, and ALWAYS telling me that He loved me.

I was a "Beloved Son"...........all along.